California Supreme Court

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Case Updates

California Supreme Court declines review

July 11, 2012

U.S. Chamber addresses assessment of a defendant's ability to pay punitive damages awards

June 11, 2012

NCLC urged the California Supreme Court to grant review of this case to provide guidance as to whether, in reviewing punitive damages against a defendant with a negative net worth, the court should ensure that the preexisting creditors' rights are protected. In this case, the Court of Appeal upheld a $4.5 million punitive damages award without an appropriate analysis of the defendant's ability to pay, and without proper consideration of one of the three constitutionally mandated "guideposts" that protect against excessive awards. NCLC's amicus brief argued that a much more sophisticated approach to ability to pay is needed, one that gives studied consideration to both the nature and the amount of the defendant's liabilities.

Case Documents